I have been contemplating doing this now for a while where i challenge myself to a walk a 30 days of art process where i publish something NEW i have created that day
to my social media. Initially i thought this would be a great way to share more of my art, art process, and Myself, as well as pushing myself to create new art each day. This is a quick sketch i did of my partner as we were in a cafe enjoying an afternoon coffee. For Christmas this year I asked for a small sketchbook that I could carry around in my pocket, so here is the first time I cracked it open!
Today i worked on my orca painting. I had painted in some water ripples the previous day but wanted to restructure the flow of the ripples at the top of the painting. I had painted in 4 ripples initially but thought 3 would be better to slow the feel of the painting down a bit. So worked on that today.
For todays Art Share, i pulled a tarot card as a jumping off point and pulled the word “Conditioning” which showed a Lion surrounded by and covered in sheep. From there i observed how sometimes “conditioning” for me is like being covered and surrounded within and without by strings of memories, thoughts, pictures, emotions where you kind of have to start with one of those strings and begin untangling all the threads by just taking one point and walking it into understanding.
Here i show some raw video of me applying a wash layer of green to the foreground of my painting. I would eventually take this further into the piece to create the affect that the Orca is submerged into his environment. As i get to know acrylics more i have naturally gravitated to using washes as a method to build the painting. Something that i never really did with oils.
I have been thinking about writing this blog post for a while now about the relationship I have with plein air painting and the relationship plein air painting has with the rest of my art practice.
When I was in art school I was a drawing major and so I studied drawing and I drew a lot. I had a few painting classes and learned some basics but it was really just a drop in the ocean of the understanding needed to really establish a strong foundational core for your painting practice.
I remember for my final graduation piece for the big grad show, for some reason I decided to do a painting. A big one! Like 8 feet by 6 feet or something like that. Even though I had never really endeavored to do anything like that before. I was astounded how long it was taking me to complete this piece and I remember working literally right up to the last day deadline and the painting was still wet when they hung it in the show.
I realized something about painting during that big final piece I did for my graduation. I realized that there was still a lot about painting I didn’t know, naturally, though, I realized I in fact knew even less than the obvious small amount I did grasp to some degree. Or that there was so much more to it than I anticipated. It was humbling.
That summer after graduation I began learning to paint.
And literally the first painting I did to begin this process was a landscape plein air painting. My reasoning was simple. “Learn From Nature”, I mean I read that statement over and over and over in all the art books I studied in school, and I had already established clear feedback from my drawing practice that I leant an immense amount about drawing when I draw directly from life and so seeing as how my new home summer studio after my graduation was out in the country side surrounded by nature; the landscape was a ready subject ripe for observing, and in my eyes the perfect aid in teaching myself how to paint for real; to lean the basics, the fundamentals and to create these into a Solid Core Foundation to fuel and support my artistic expression. And so this is what I did.
I spent that summer not only painting the landscape, but also painting a lot of self portraits, portraits of my girlfriend at the time, still lifes, interiors, ect. I took every opportunity to paint directly from life. And this is the crux of this blog post. I did this, I painted from life, and I painted plein air, because it taught me the fundamentals. I started learning how colors interact on a flat plain, and how to make something look and feel real. I wanted to know the rules. I wanted to develop and know the basics, so that I had a stable foundation from which to branch off and explore other means and methods of painting.
Plein air painting always gave my studio work a liveliness and vitality. And so even when I was focused very much on studio work, I always found time to go out and paint plein air as the foundational process to strengthen the core of my painting practice and really understanding the structure of how paint interacts on the canvas to form the appearance or illusion of space and objects
So I still go out today and paint the landscape. Its like my baseline.
Even when I am not doing a lot of painting, I have maintained an application of painting the landscape. Simply as that very basic, building blocks, process of painting.
So if you are an artist and you are looking for a way to develop your skill. Or you are wanting to begin your artistic journey, I’d highly recommend plien air painting or painting directly from life anywhere, whether that be still life’s, or portraits. Or if you are a drawer, and not yet into painting, then the same applies if you haven’t yet, to draw from life as that regular study of the basics, and development of the fundamentals.
So one primary reason I paint plein air is because of what I explained in this blog. It is how I learn, practice, and perfect the basics and fundamentals of painting.
I have recently started a new project working as a stone carver in collaboration with Fathom Stone Art Gallery and Studio.
So here I am going to walk you through the carving process giving some insight into all that is involved in such a process.
Lets Get Started!
So the fist Phase is you start with a Stone, For this particular stone I had already before hand had a few ideas of what I would like to try out in terms of the position/posture of the bear I was going to carve. When I saw the shape of this stone, it was immediate where I could see ‘oh this would work for a standing bear’.
So during phase one I find I really look at the rock, turning it and flipping it and looking at the natural shape of the rock to see how/if this already start to inform the shape the bear. This particular rock had one point that was kind of ‘sticking out’ form the rest of the rock that was already shaped like an elbow, and so I found I followed this ‘line’ and that eventually became the shoulder and arm of the standing bear.
Here I start to actually carve away the stone using an electric grinder. Basically here I was aiming at establishing the ‘size’ of the head so that when I worked down from there that I would be able to proportionality fit in the rest of the bear. I had a few sketches that I had done, and also photo references that I was using as a basic guideline.
Here you can see the bear start to emerge. I found I more focused on establishing the basics of the head and then working down from there . I also found here that the natural cuts that the grinder makes creates a ‘fur like’ texture so at this stage i decided that I would see if I could keep some of those natural grinder cuts in the final piece to represent a tuft of hair around the neck of the bear.
So continuing with cutting away the stone with a grinder. This phase is also quite cool because you can not also start to see the natural colors and patterns of the rock start to emerge and get an idea of how these are going to look like on the final piece. Its kind of like unwrapping a present. This one has an awesome dark purple streak running along the back of the bear which creates quite a cool look.
Ok so now I am just about ready to take the bear into the Gallery and start the final cutting and then moving into sanding and polishing and doing the more finer details like the nose, eyes, ears etc. During this process I found each night I would often go and gather more references so that I could see exactly how for instance a bears ear looks like, or the way the arm muscles move in certain positions.
In the beginning I envisioned this bear standing on a rock, but as I walked the carving process I had to reassess things because as you can see this base was getting smaller and smaller and so around about this time I decided to take out the base completely and just have the bear standing on its own. This presented a new challenge which was to make sure the bear was Balanced! I had a few nervous moments where the thought entered my mind of ‘oh my god this bear is going to tip over’ but slowly but surely I adjusted and tweaked the bear and the position of the legs and arms so that everything was positioned and ‘sat’ in a balanced way. In the end the bear actually ended up being quite stable in this standing which is cool. I mean Sure-footedness is something that Id like for myself and my bear. To be Sure Footed, STABLE, Solid. So yes in the end I was quite satisfied with the overall Standing of the bear.
Ok so Now I am have brought the bear into the Studio Gallery to do the final cuts and bring the the form to a finished point to then begin the sanding and polishing process. You can see in the image below that I have now cut off the base and the bear is standing on its own with a few adjustments required.
So the sanding and polishing phase is actually quite an extensive process. I probably spent probably over 20 hours on the sanding and polishing of this bear. Its can be tricky to get into all the groves and crevasses. This one was particularly tricky because of the ‘tuft of hair’ around the neck of the bear which had allot of intricate parts to sand and polish.
If you take a close look at the picture on the right you can see I started with the polishing process and started with the top and am here half way down. The polishing process is quite cool and really brings out the natural patterns and colors of the stone.
The final phase is where you say “there I am done” and then take it out and set it up and realize “oh shoot I missed a spot” I mean one can really go on forever in this stage, finding all the little scratches and things like that that you could keep adjusting and going over forever. And so in this phase you bring your piece back into the studio and do some real fine tuning.